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Culture of Silence

28 Jan

Acts of violence are committed against women in the Mexican-American Studies community consistently, yet it seems they are only discussed publicly when people outside the movement get involved. As a young woman in this community I should have been made aware of men in the movement who are known perpetrators of violence. I need to know which spaces are safe spaces and I need to be able to make informed decisions about the people I am involving myself with or organizing with. I believe that part of the reason I had no previous knowledge of any man’s history of gendered violence was because of a carefully constructed culture of silence. This culture of silence is also a culture of protection and of zero accountability. It was created to
pardon perpetrators of gendered violence and shield them from public scrutiny in order to maintain an image of social unity against injustice. The fact that information about people’s history with violence is kept from young women and other community members suggests that there is a system within the MAS community to keep that information private. It suggests that the people in power choose to glorify certain people and hide their history of violence.

Crafting a dialogue or narrative on blogs, newspapers, or during interviews also creates this culture of silence. Every time someone gives an interview or writes an article that intentionally covers up violence and injustice within the community – in order to fake a united, justice oriented front for the rest of the country – they are
contributing to the culture of silence. This is part of a larger issue, one that is centered around Three Sonorans controlling the national dialogue surrounding ethnic studies and vilifying the women or queer identified people who choose to counter this narrative, making the choice every time he writes a post and decides who is the glorified savior and who is the demonized. Bloggers and interviewees make the choice to glorify or vilify whomever they want every time they speak or write a post. They have the power to pick and choose which parts of the present to write about, therefore creating a history – again based on the observations and opinions of men and leaving out certain narratives they believe are unimportant. The assumption is that the narrative of men is all-encompassing and that somehow certain people have the authority to be ‘the voice’ of the movement.

When Three Sonorans writes a post he decides which narrative he wants to perpetuate, one that suits him the best and one that supports his homies, regardless of the truth. People perpetuating narratives for their own personal gain need to take responsibility for their role in establishing the current Tucson narrative as a largely male voice. They also need to take responsibility for their writings glorifying certain men in the community as pillars of social justice around the country, while they knew these men were perpetrators of violence inside their homes and inside the community.

In contrast to this male-centric national ethnic studies narrative, I want to have a collective narrative; filled with stories from women, LGBTQ, and disabled identified peoples. I want the national spotlight to not only focus on the men in this community but to embrace and acknowledge the leadership and contributions of women to this
movement.  In order to create this new narrative there needs to be an end to the public flaming and silencing of women and queer people in the community and there needs to be a system of accountability for our bloggers and those people who try to represent us nationally.

Hopefully this blog can be a tool to shift our national narrative to one that includes voices of people of all genders, sexualities, ages, class status and abilities. We cannot be a movement to fight injustice elsewhere if we are still perpetuating the same patriarchal, colonial oppression within our community.

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4 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Her stories, Tucson movement

 

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4 responses to “Culture of Silence

  1. Movement Junkie

    January 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Wow! How right on is this posting! I can see how even I have been complicit in perpetrating the “Culture of Silence.” When outsiders would ask about SES, Freedom Summer or Precious Knowledge I would not tell what I knew because I was a cog or part of that system that did not “rat” on others….. weren’t we were warned not to be a Fredos? When 3 Sonorans would write about all the people who came out to support the cause I’d wonder because I had not seen those people at the events and I wondered where they had gone–but exaggerating local support was part of the lie.

     
    • Jean

      January 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

      So happy, so happy, so relieved that the truth is finally coming out.

       
  2. Gregório

    January 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I think part of the culture of silence is based on the idea that events, specifically of gendered violence, are discrete one-off incidences and not part of a larger pattern of abuse. It is easy to rationalize the silencing of a single event… it is in the past, the event is over, it is time to move on. However it is much more difficult to justify the covering up the ongoing culture of repeated violence and abuse.
    I hope that this zine can break that pattern of silence by recognizing that if each occurrence of abuse is not exposed then the reality of routine abuse of women, of LGBTQ peoples, of non able bodied community member, and of all those living in the margins, will remain obscured from view.

     
  3. SAMujer

    March 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I so wish I hadn’t left you all. I had to physically leave but I wish I hadn’t emotionally and electronically leave yall. But luckily I’m back and now to support from Tejas.

     

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